Hudson Springs Park
Hudson Springs Park
Hudson Springs Park is the 260 acre keystone park of Hudson. Originally, the 50 acre lake that we enjoy today did not exist. This land was all marshy woodland with natural springs that feed the Tinker Creek watershed. The property is part lot 69 of the original township grid of 1799. According to the earliest landowner maps in Summit County, this property was first purchased by a farmer named Horace Metcalf. Horace came to Hudson from Connecticut sometime before 1819 with his brother, Jonathon. Old marriage records show that 28 year old Horace married Eliza Thompson in Hudson in the year 1819. Eliza was the daughter of Moses and Elizabeth Mills Thompson. Moses Thompson was the first doctor in Summit county. In his book, Hudson of Long Ago, Reminiscence, Lora Case tells the tale of Moses Thompson walking to Hudson from New York to join David Hudson and the first pioneers to survey their new township. To entice him to stay, David Hudson gave him $50.00 to purchase medical supplies. Dr. Thompson took the money and walked the 650 miles back to New York in 12 days! In the spring of 1800, he returned with the supplies, his wife and young Eliza. Horace and Eliza Thompson Metcalf built their farm house, MapleWood Farm, in 1825 and it still stands today on Hudson-Aurora Road. They owned several hundred acres of land including the Hudson Springs Park site and used it as farm land. When Horace died in 1863, the land title was transferred to his wife Eliza.
Eliza Metcalf held the land until her death in 1873. According to her last will and testament, her daughter Eliza L. Metcalf Curtiss inherited the farm land on lot 69 where Hudson Springs Park is located today.
Sometime before 1891, Eliza and Mosley Curtiss sold the land on lot 69 to Horace B. Foster who was a lawyer living in Hudson at the time. According to a 1910 Hudson Township map, his daughter, Marie Barnes, owned the property until she sold it to Dean May in 1942.
Dean May was a probate judge in the Summit County Courthouse. He moved his family to Hudson in 1942 where they resided in the Hudson Village on Streetsboro Street. In her book, Pass it On, Oral Histories of Long-time Hudson Residents, Joan May Maher recalls that her father, who had grown up on a farm, “was yearning to return to the land. He was searching not only for a farm, but for a natural basin for a lake; for he loved to fish and reflect.” After a search around the local countryside he found and purchased the property that is now Hudson Springs Park. It was still an active farm leased by a tenant farmer at the time. Joan remembers, that “through the shagbarks, back through the fallow fields now bedecked with joe bye weed, goldenrod and dock, he discovered a natural basin, spring-fed swampy land where one day he would realize his dream for a lake.”
Judge May went right to work building a summer cabin and developing a 3 acre lake in a meadow. The May children played in the woods, picked berries and learned to swim while spending many happy days in the cabin. Judge Dean was an active member of the Rotary Club and hosted annual summer picnics for fellow members at “little lake”. In 1946, the May family moved to the old farmhouse that was on the property now adjacent to Hudson Springs Park. Later that year they would move in to their new white brick home that still stands today in the same location on Stow Road. They farmed the land and Joan reflects that during this time,” mother and father nurtured in us the qualities they valued: hard work, persistence, high energy, love of nature, beauty, honesty, caring and sharing.” The 50 acre lake we enjoy today had just been developed and was filling with spring water when Judge May fell ill and died in 1949. Mrs. Dorothy May began a swimming business that summer that the locals called “May’s Lake”. Joan remembers that she and her brothers worked as life guards, refreshment stand/gatehouse attendants and did all of the mowing and clean up. There was a sand beach, diving board and picnic tables. As many as 2,000 people would visit the lake on weekends from the entire Akron-Cleveland area. Hudson historian, Tom Vince, fondly remembers coming to the park as a boy with his family from the Cleveland area.
Once the children had all left home and finished college, Dorothy May decided to sell the park. In the late 1960’s, she offered it for sale to the Hudson Township who, at the time, was not interested. The land was purchased by a group of investors interested in developing the land to build houses. After they were unsuccessful at plotting the land, they put the land up for sale in 1970. This time ,the Hudson Board of Education and the Hudson Park Board were very interested in purchasing the land and commissioned a study to be done to determine the best use and purchase of it. In 1972 the Hudson Jaycees signed an agreement to lease the land from the investors to give the Hudson Township time to determine how to fund the purchase of the land. They built the structure that is now the maintenance building and, for many years, this was the original site of the popular Hudson Haunted House. In 1974 the Village Of Hudson purchased the 213 acre Hudson Springs property. In the following years they purchased other pieces of adjacent property to build the trail that surrounds the lake today.
From marshy woodland to farm land to keystone park and recreation site, the land once identified as Lot 69 continues to provide a great resource of health and happiness to a grateful community.